What a glorious and bright sunshiny day in the Vestmannæyjar (Westman Islands)! We sailed in early to Heimaey, and with the assistance of a local pilot, Captain Heidi spun the ship in place and expertly backed National Geographic Resolution alongside the dock. From here, we set out on our hikes and tours. The more adventurous among us hiked up Eldfell Volcano while others enjoyed coach tours of this beautiful and geologically very young island. On the tours, we saw volcanoes, puffins, and adventurous mountain-climbing sheep as well as beautiful landscapes and seascapes all around. We all visited the superb Eldheimar (Fire World) Museum that describes the unexpected 1973 eruption of Eldfell Volcano. In the afternoon, we sailed south into Vestmannæyjar and circumnavigated the famous Surtsey for which all volcanic eruptions of its style are now named. We also visited a gannet colony where the cliffs and the air were filled with gannets.
National Geographic Explorer
This morning, we woke up to find National Geographic Explorer cruising the Westman Islands off the southeast coast of Iceland proper. These islands rise straight out of the ocean with towering, vertical cliffs that offer amazing views. With thousands of birds and interesting geology, this archipelago was fun for everyone to explore and photograph. In the afternoon, we went ashore for hiking and panoramic tours of Heimaey. This fishing community was the site of an intense volcanic rift eruption in 1973 that forced residents onto boats, not knowing if their homes would be there when they returned. After five months, residents returned to what was left of the village and began to rebuild. Guests were able to explore this dynamic place by hiking up the volcanic rim or viewing the surroundings via private coach, all affording excellent views and photographic opportunities. Our evening was spent cruising the newest island in the area, Surtsey. This island rose out of the ocean in 1963 and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. As the sun slowly made its way toward the horizon, we all began to reflect on an amazing expedition around Iceland. Sharing stories with new friends was a great way to spend our last night on board.